Eating My Words: Lamb Stew with Dried Plums from The Hunger Games

Rebecca Peters-Golden

by Rebecca Peters-Golden on June 8, 2011

In the latest installment of Eating My Words, bluestocking columnist Rebecca Peters-Golden takes on the latest beloved-slash-controversial book series-slash-movie blockbuster: The Hunger Games. Plan your viewing parties now.

I always delight in reading novels that totally love their food—feasting, snacking, cooking, smelling; I love it all. There is, however, something almost shiveringly good about a delicious description of food in a book where food is scarce. This is the case in Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games (hi, the title kind of says it all).

When kickass Katniss Everdeen isn’t trying to find enough food to survive or interacting with Greasy Sae, the old woman in District 12 who famously says, “Once it’s in the soup, I’ll call it beef,” she’s, you know, killing other teenagers to provide a vicious propaganda of bread and circus for the overprivileged and overfed citizens of the Capitol. In short, for Katniss, food has always been a necessity and very rarely a pleasure.

hunger games lamb stew

It’s for this reason, I think, that Katniss’ fondness for lamb stew stands out. On the train that will take her to the Capitol, Katniss views each meal as a chance to build up her strength, to perhaps help her stay alive a little longer in the Game. Although she tastes many of the Capitol’s delicacies, it is a homely stew that she likes the best, “made with tender chunks of lamb and dried plums” and served on a bed of wild rice. Although she shovels it into her mouth without thinking on the train, when she is interviewed in the Capitol, it’s very much on her mind:

“So, Katniss, the Capitol must be quite a change from District Twelve. What’s impressed you most since you arrived here?” asks Caesar. . . .
I rack my brain for something that made me happy here.
Be honest, I think. Be honest.
“The lamb stew,” I get out.
Caesar laughs, and vaguely I realize some of the audience has joined in.
“The one with the dried plums?” asks Caesar. I nod. “Oh, I eat it by the bucketful.”

And, never has hunger so been nature’s salt than in a scene during the Games, when (*spoiler*) Katniss and Peeta are rewarded for their first kiss with the only real meal they’ve had since the Games begun. “There’s a feast—fresh rolls, goat cheese, apples, and best of all, a tureen of that incredible lamb stew on wild rice.” As a reader, it’s like you’ve been hungry for delicious food descriptions as Katniss has been deprived of food, and this stew definitely hits the spot . . . even if you aren’t fighting for your life at the hands of a corrupt government.

So, even though the Hunger Games movie will likely disappoint, at least you can follow the casting call from your couch, and sop up a bowl of this delicious stew as you watch the blogosphere rage.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Fred Lopez April 25, 2012 at 11:56 pm

I am currently reading Catching Fire, like the series, what I also like is how a food is big deal. Cooking is one of my favorite hobbies and wanted to replicate Katniss’s favorite meal at the Capitol, Lamb Stew with Dried Plum. I envisioned it to be a French or North Africa style of stew. When I looked online for recipes, I was disappointed to see more soup type consistency rather than the thick gravy like stew that was described. I came across this one and told my self that this was a sound recipe and needed to try it. I followed the recipe to the letter and it produced a rich and decadent stew. The prunes complemented the lamb really well, also the wine I used was a Washington State Syrah. I told my self, This is definitely what they would serve at the capitol and I can eat this by the bucket full. Good job, I’ll be repeating this recipe.


Rebecca Peters-Golden Rebecca April 26, 2012 at 9:33 am

Fred, I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe! I, too, am not a fan of a watery stew—I mean, Katiniss was going to eat it for strength; it has to be hearty. Thanks! —Rebecca


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